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Ambassador's replaces O'Yeah Cafe

By Jane Su     1/16/13 6:00pm


Students who are used to grabbing a bite of Chinese food at the window beside Sammy's do not have to change that habit. The food, however, will no longer be coming from the O'Yeah Cafe. Instead, it will come from the new Ambassador's Chinese Restaurant. 

The still sign-less Ambassador's Restaurant moved into the Rice Memorial Center two weeks before the end of last year. The restaurant, owned by Wendy Wang, has been operating in Houston for 37 years, according to Wang. It started by cooking Cantonese food but soon branched out to dishes from all parts of China. Wang said the restaurant also tried to create some dishes that blend the Chinese tradition with the American taste. 

"Some Chinese dishes are too strong in flavor, so we decreased the amount of spices being used," Wang said. "We also sweetened some dishes so that they are more agreeable to our American guests." 

Rice Housing and Dining Senior Business Director David McDonald said he could not discuss the details of why O'Yeah Cafe suddenly moved out. 

"I can just say that O'Yeah Cafe failed to meet some requirements on the contract and had to be replaced soon," McDonald said. "But O'Yeah can still do catering at Rice." 

McDonald said O'Yeah Cafe was originally introduced to H&D by the Rice Chinese Student and Scholar Club, an association for international Chinese undergraduate and graduate students. He said RCSSC reminded him that Rice has a lot of Chinese students and suggested including a Chinese cafe in Rice's on-campus dining options. According to McDonald, RCSSC helped with O'Yeah's move-in process, making it quicker than normal. 

RCSSC, however, is unaware of the details of the replacement process. According to RCSSC president Lu Wang, the club received an email at the end of last semester indicating that the O'Yeah Cafe would soon be replaced by a new Chinese restaurant. 

"I didn't even know the name of the new restaurant until now," Lu Wang said. 

Lu Wang said RCSSC has used O'Yeah to cater events in the past, and she enjoyed the food. She said she wondered why O'Yeah disappeared so quickly and was replaced without warning. 

McDonald said the choice of Ambassador's was largely due to the timing. However, he said he personally liked the restaurant. 

"Look at the long queue in front of their window - you can see that people love it, McDonald said. "They know their business and can serve the customers really quickly." 

Manager of Communications for Facilities Engineering and Planning Susann Glenn also expressed her praises for Ambassador's. 

"I eat there [two] or three times each week, and I like the food there," Glenn said. "Wendy knows her customers; she always told me that I should add more of this or that. She is like an old mom." 

Fifth-year architecture student Luis Esteban Salcedo said Ambassador's couldn't compare to O'Yeah Cafe in food quality and service. 

"There were more options at O'Yeah and the food generally looked more appetizing," Salcedo said. "The cheerful attitude of the servers of O'Yeah made going there a pleasant experience every time. The Ambassador reminded me of the gas station-like RechargeU that was right behind me." 

On the other hand, Wendy Wang said she is trying to improve the food quality of Ambassador's. She said her staff noticed that some people buy food at the window every day, so Ambassador's purchases different vegetables and meats every day to ensure its customers can try different dishes. 

Ambassador's is only operating during lunchtime at the moment, but Wendy Wang said she planned to open her window for dinner as well. 

"Rice told us that some people of the MBA program dine on campus in the evening," Wendy Wang said. "We will be glad to offer them dining services if possible." 

McDonald said H&D is considering allowing Ambassador's to operate during dinnertime. 

"We hope that by letting [Ambassador's] serve dinners here, people at Rice can have more dining choices," McDonald said.

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